Pokes Blown Out By Alabama

It was the same song but a different verse for Oklahoma State in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday night. The Cowboys made their second half runs but couldn't counter the early hole they found themselves in.

OSU lost to Alabama 69-52 to move its losing streak to three games and the two previous losses — to New Mexico and Pittsburgh — came in a similar fashion.

The Cowboys have dug themselves into deficits exceeding 15 points in all three games before putting together temporary second-half runs to make things interesting before the opponents pull away again late.

The game against the Crimson Tide got out of hand early, as ‘Bama jumped out to a 21-4 lead seven minutes into the game and those baffling droughts are one of the key issues coach Travis Ford has been trying to address in practice this week. Wednesday, though, it was to no avail as it was again the Cowboys' undoing. After falling behind by 17, OSU played even — 48-48 — with the Tide the rest of the way.

The bright spot for the Cowboys, and there was one, was obviously Le'Bryan Nash. The freshman forward led the Cowboys with 17 points and added four rebounds and an assist. Nash took over for the Pokes and scored 11-straight points in the first half to keep things from getting uglier.

The most encouraging aspects of Nash's performance were his shot selection and aggressiveness. He played more under control than he has been and was more assertive and physical at the same time. He made 6-of-12 shots from the floor and committed just two turnovers.

Nash's play and increased defensive intensity helped the Pokes close the gap to nine when Cezar Guerrero drained a 3 with 5:49 to play but OSU couldn't keep the momentum. Senior Keiton Page turned the ball over on three of the team's next four possessions, allowing the deficit to swell back to 12. Page scored just three points on 1-of-4 shooting with four turnovers and couldn't find any room to operate against the Tide's swarming defense.

Nash played well and J.P. Olukemi at times, finishing with 12 points and six rebounds, but again the Cowboys didn't have enough players contribute on offense to have a realistic shot at winning.

Nash's nice 17-point outing was offset by the other four starters — Page, Markel Brown, Reger Dowell and Philip Jurick — combining for just 12 points. All four made one shot from the floor.

The Cowboys have a lot to work on and luckily have some time to do it with a full week to prepare for their final nonconference tilt outside of Gallagher-Iba Arena. OSU (6-5) faces SMU (6-4) in Dallas on Dec. 28 at 5:30 p.m. in Dallas.

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